Having the ability to see in the dark would secure and enhance the performance of a soldier. Consequently, several pieces of tactical gear would come equipped with night vision technology. These night vision devices or NVDs come equipped with sights, illuminators, binoculars, and goggles designed for law enforcement professionals and warfighters. Soldiers would use these night vision devices for enhancing operational competency, approaching targets stealthily, precise shooting, vehicle operations, navigation, and surveillance.
Night vision capabilities in tactical gear fall into either of the following categories –
- Thermal enhancement
- Light amplification
Thermal imaging or enhancement would make the most of infrared energy emitted by all objects. The emitted light would be proportional to the amount of heat produced. Thermal enhancement equipped night vision devices would sense infrared energy and cater to you with a thermal image of an area. Such devices would be either cryogenically coded or un-cooled. However, the latter has been immensely popular with the people. Tactical gear with thermal imaging and cooled cryogenically offers a considerably higher degree of sensitivity and resolution. It enables the user to notice the difference of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit of infrared energy from a thousand feet away.
Light amplification or image enhancement has been relatively common. It has an image intensifier tube, which gathers and amplifies the invisible and infrared light. It would be done using a tube that converts photons into electrons and then converts them back.
Despite both kinds of night vision devices having been deemed effective in a tactical environment, thermal imaging would enable the detection of vehicles and people in places with no ambient light or near dark places. You could also use it in full daylight.
Use Of Night Vision Capabilities In Tactical Gear
Tactical gear equipped with night vision capabilities has been in use for more than forty years. However, since its introduction, it has undergone several improvements and changes.
The initial night vision devices known as Generation 0 used active infrared technology. An infrared illuminator was attached to the night vision device. To view an object, a beam of light had to reflect off it and bounce back to the lens of the night vision device. Scientifically, an anode was used with a cathode for accelerating electrons. Nonetheless, the process produced unclear images. Therefore, it was easily copied by various countries.
Generation 1 night vision devices were passive infrared. To view an object, it used the natural light from the stars and the moon to normal amounts of reflected infrared light in the environment. However, the approach meant that the device did not work well in moonless or cloudy conditions. As both Generation 0 and Generation 1 used similar image intensifier tubes, the latest night vision devices did not require a projected infrared light source.
Generation 2 comes equipped with significant improvements over its predecessors. The major changes were made to image intensifier tubes. Generation 2 offered reliability, enhanced performance, and resolution thereby making it easier to use in low light conditions. It also comes equipped with a microchannel or MCP for the image intensifier tube. Instead of accelerating the prevalent electronics, the microchannel enhanced its numbers. It resulted in less distorted images.
Generation 3 night vision devices employ similar technology as their predecessors. However, Generation 3 devices offered better sensitivity and resolution capabilities. Specific changes would be inclusive of photocathode made using gallium arsenide. It converts photons to electrons effectively. Moreover, the MCP has been coated with an ion barrier to enhance the lifespan of the tube.
Generation 4 night vision devices use filmless and gated technology. It caters to the user with enhanced vision in high-level and low-light environments. The MCP does not have an ion barrier. It enhances the signal-to-noise ratio and reduces the background noise. It also results in more electrons reaching the amplification process. It creates clear and brighter images. It also comes equipped with an automated gated power supply system. It enables the photocathode voltage to switch on and off quickly.